Saturday, November 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bruins breeze through Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ offense struggled to get things going in Thursday night’s regular-season finale against top-ranked Pulaski Academy, as the Bruins held the Bears’ offense to its lowest point total of the season on the way to a 36-14 win at Bill Blackwood Field.

Pulaski Academy, who finished the regular season 10-0 with the win, scored the first 36 points of the game to invoke the sportsmanship rule early in the second half.

“They played great on defense,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow of PA’s defense. “That’s one thing, nobody talks about their defense. Their defense is phenomenal.

“They play really good defense and, you know, you got to make plays when you get chances. We just didn’t get it done. We didn’t get it done, offensively. We played well all year, we just didn’t get it done right then.”

The Bruins’ first score came on a 51-yard run by running back Jaren Watkins with 9:16 to play in the first quarter. Tre Bruce added the two-point conversion to give the visitors an early 8-0 lead.

Sylvan Hills, who finished the regular season 6-3, turned it over on downs on its first offensive series, but PA’s next drive ended with quarterback Layne Hatcher being intercepted by Sylvan Hills’ Cameron Flippo. It was one of three interceptions by Flippo on Thursday.

Pulaski Academy didn’t score again until the 6:56 mark of the second quarter. That touchdown came on a 19-yard Hatcher pass to receiver Sam Starkey. The PAT was no good, making it 14-0 Bruins.

The Bruins then covered the onside kick that followed, and scored on the next offensive play, which was a 55-yard run by Bruce. Trey Adams added the two-point conversion to give PA a 22-0 cushion. That was the score at halftime.

The visitors covered another onside kick to start the second half, and capitalized with a 5-play scoring drive. That touchdown came on a 16-yard pass from Hatcher to Bruce a minute and 30 seconds into the third quarter. The extra point made it 29-0 PA.

Sylvan Hills turned it over on downs on the following drive, and PA added its final score on another Hatcher pass, this one a 50-yarder with 7:45 left in the third. The extra point was good, and the clock ran continuously the rest of the way because of the 35-point sportsmanship rule.

Flippo’s third pick of the game was in the end zone on a Corbin Witham pass, which set the Bears’ offense up at their own 20 with just over nine minutes to play. On the next snap, Sylvan Hills found the end zone with an 80-yard run by Ty Compton.

Tito Mendoza’s extra point made it 36-7, and the final score was set on the fourth play of the Bruins’ ensuing drive.

The backup quarterback took a big hit from the Bears’ defense, causing a fumble, and Tyler Yeoman scooped it up and scored from about 20 yards out. The PAT set the final score.

Sylvan Hills finished the night with 180 yards of offense. PA had 541 yards of offense. Quarterback Jordan Washington led the Bears with 13 carries for 85 yards. Compton added 81 yards and a touchdown on three carries.

The Bears started the year 6-0, but finished the regular season having lost their last three games – albeit against the top three teams in the 5A-Central (PA, McClellan and Beebe). Considering that, Withrow isn’t worried as his team now gears up for the Class 5A playoffs, which begin next week.

“We’re fine,” Withrow said. “We’re a young football team. Other than Fair, we’re probably the youngest football team in the conference. We’ll bounce back and we’ll get after it.”

The Bears enter next week’s playoffs as the No. 4 seed from the 5A-Central. They’ll travel to undefeated Little Rock Christian, the top seed from the 5A-West, for next Friday’s first round. Kickoff next Friday is set for 7 p.m.